The Grief and Joy of the Holidays.

grief, holidays, loss

The grief and joy of the holiday season.

(This article was written in late 2020 and published in the USA November 25, 2020)  

It is interesting that as I begin to write this piece on grief, I am doing it from a hospital bed where my elderly mother lies. At 89, the odds are not in her favour. I cannot help but reflect on how unspeakably grateful I feel to be by her side, a luxury many have not had during this extraordinary year.

Grief has been, and always will be, a difficult journey, however 2020 has taken it to a new, unprecedented level. One that the text books and medical journals have not yet defined, as it is so different to what we might have once called ‘normal’.

The simple truth is that nothing about this year is normal and there is no blueprint on how to grieve during these COVID times. One bitter sweet truth is that there are many others who have travelled the same road, creating an unusual bond as they all begrudgingly belong to the same group, feeling the same loss.

If this is you, do not be hard on yourself as it is normal to feel angry and cheated, especially when others around you are celebrating the holiday season.

You cannot help but notice the build-up of emotion, like an enormous tsunami wave, as the festivities begin.

So how do you deal with, and build resilience, during the holiday season?

The trick is to anticipate the tsunamis, this way, you can identify the sound as they begin to roll. You prepare, you remind yourself of how strong and resilient you already are and of what you have already overcome in your life.

This way, as the first push begins, instead of resisting the force of the wave of grief, you welcome it, you surrender to it, you let go and allow the feelings to come.

Over time, you learn to ride the wave of grief with ease and grace. You begin to trust the process, just as you begin to trust that you have got what it takes, to get through it.

Acceptance, awareness and extreme kindness to self is a priority during the holiday season. You take one day at a time, one step at a time, one moment at a time, and one breath at a time if you have to.

It is important to be present during this time, and not run from what could be a beautiful time of embracing the memories you have of your beloved.

The Holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and it may be that this season will also be a time of intense grief for you. What if the two could co-exist? What if you were intentional about allowing the grief, however, also embracing the joy, embracing the memory, and even creating a beautiful ritual to remember your beloved by. 

What if, instead of dreading the holidays, you could create something extraordinary, and prove that out of grief, could also come greatness?

Beyond grief, there is hope, there is joy, there can even be personal greatness as you have the courage to look deeper within.

Your path of greatness may not be obvious to you right now. The thing is, you do not need to know what is beyond the horizon, sometimes you just need to trust it, and overtime, it will unfold.